Guest Post: This Can't End Well!

In this first of a series, I have a guest post for you. Written by a friend of mine, it touches upon several of the issues we often cover here. Feel free to provide "feedback" in the comments section.

This Can’t End Well!

I am just an average Midwestern guy with a family, nice home and a solid job.  I suppose in most respects many people would say I have achieved the great American Dream!  I am at a point in my life where I should be able to begin to relax a little and enjoy more of the fruits of my labor!  Though I have had success both in my professional and personal life I see things going on around me and I worry…sometimes a little too much!

This past weekend while enjoying some college football, a cold beer (or two) and some good conversation with a buddy of mine I found the occasion I found myself uttering the phrase “this can’t end well”.  I was telling my buddy about something I had read earlier in the week about a city in Michigan that could no longer afford to pay their electric bill so they were turning off, and in some cases, removing street lights.  Now I’m guessing the average person might have seen that and not thought much more about it other than “glad that’s not happening in my city!”   And while it may not be happening in your city or neighborhoods today there is chance that it will happen in many more and soon.   I am sure you have seen in the headlines the problems that states/cities/municipalities are having in balancing their budgets.  One of the biggest cost drivers that they have to deal with are the unsustainable levels of pension and healthcare benefits that have been promised to public employees.  Now before you go and feel sorry for the governments, they got themselves in this mess (with a lot of help from unions) because it is always easier to promise things to people that won’t come due while you are in office.

When personnel costs become too excessive in the private sector, businesses will reduce staff and the level of benefits they provide or they won’t be around long to provide them.  This doesn’t seem to happen often in the public employee world.  There have been a few state and local governments that have tried and usually it results in public protests, harassments and threats against the individuals who suggest that some fiscal sanity is a reasonable path forward.   As we’ve seen for the past several months in Greece, the idea that those living off the public largess would have to make some sacrifice results in mobs and riots and violence.  Surely that kind of thing can’t happen here….right?  While it didn’t quite reach the true riot and violence level there was certainly a fair amount of “protests” in Wisconsin when the Governor was trying to limit the ability of public workers to put such a strain on the government that it had to cut services or perhaps even go bankrupt.  Heck, just watch the “Occupy (fill in blank)” crowd and they don’t even know why they are protesting!  What if government actually cut their subsidies…

The fact that a city would cut off a service as basic as street lights got me to thinking about what could be next.  If reducing the light bill doesn’t fix the cash flow problems what is next.  Do they cut back on road maintenance?  Water treatment? Police?  Fire protection?  Do you ever wonder why when money is tight the first things that get mentioned to cut are the things that governments exist to provide in the first place!  As I stated before I consider myself the an average guy who does the right things and meets his obligations but I got to wondering what if my city no longer could provide the basic service that they are paid by me (and my other law abiding , responsible neighbors) to do?    So what would happen to a community/society where the producers (i.e taxpayers) no longer receive the basic benefits that their taxes are supposed to fund?  How many of us knowingly continue to pay for a good or service that we no longer receive.  So we stop paying, either in the form of civil disobedience or simply by moving to another community that we believe will provide the basics we are paying for.  If that happens, it will only exasperate the local governments’ problems even more.  Now we will have protest both from those that pay and those that live off the system……this can’t end well!

375 Comments

Eric Original's picture

Started well!

The thread, at least, started well!

ferretflat's picture

You gotta stack physical

You gotta stack physical everything!!

Brotha Bob's picture

Just the beginning

This is just the beginning. Street light, cops, firemen, water, add to the list. Look at that town in R.I..

These stories will become more common place as we go forward. Sad to see this happen.

Big L's picture

AMEN

Brother, Welcome to the worry club. :-)

L

backseatdriver's picture

Hamster Wheel is spinning now

It is a human right (not a privilege) to choose to save. That has been taken from every single person who contributes the fruits of their labor to society. Fiat rotates around a zero sum game, it doesn't just up and disappear but is merely transferred to the global elitists. I dont give one rip about becoming wealthy. ZERO. I just want to be able to save for 25 to 30 years and not have everything stolen from me via the Vampire Squid Satanic Banking Cartel Elite Globalists. Sorry for the rant, it seemed apropo.

Nice big healthy portion of food for thought there TF.

BSD

stephanie's picture

Fiscal Conservatives...

Fiscal conservatives really need to work on their message. They are losing the PR battle. And the GOP is a rotten representative of fiscally conservative ideas. The GOP makes it come off like they don't care about workers or the middle class, which is why there is such a huge backlash against any spending cuts. They need an entirely different tactic.

Eric Original's picture

Minor nitpick

Agreed, the breakdown in public services is going to be an ongoing ugly issue.  But it's all more complicated than just blaming public employees.

Look, we all want the snow plowed off our streets. And we get pretty damned indignant, rightfully, when it doesn't get done to our satisfaction.  In my part of the country it's an absolute must.  How then do you make the leap where you say that the guy driving the plow, the mechanic who keeps the plow running, and the guy back at the county garage who directs all the plows are all "living off the public largess", and need to be cutback?  Yet you'll still complain if your road is not plowed fast enough.

There's no one right answer here.  It's all complicated.  Complicated enough that simple, political dogma style answers can't really cut it.  

C F's picture

I would have to agree.  If

I would have to agree.  If things got that bad, the masses would just stop paying their taxes and the whole country would implode.

backseatdriver's picture

Politics are gone

There is no hope in politics. Both parties feed the same monster. It is like pissing into the wind. The system is smashed and completely fractured. Answers will have to come from elsewhere at this point. Where? I am not that pretentious to even think I have the solution. Like Brotha Bob said, it is truly, truly sad and pathetic.

BSD

Dexter Morgan's picture

Good point

God forbid they lay off a few worthless non-producers to keep the lights on.  The 3 richest counties in the US by median family income are in the Washington Metro Area per forbes.com.  Check out Wikipedia under Washington Metro Area.  The 3 counties are over $100k median family income with the entire 5.5 million population area at $72.8k.  There is no recession in DC.  Can't make this stuff up!

Don't forget, median is different from average, with half of families over and under median.  Just go to craigslist under Washington, DC and check out the want ads from common labor.  They are killing it!  Of course rent and real estate are higher because the economy is rocking, but you can get $15 for an auto parts deliver job and one company is looking for multiple part and full-time employees.  $12-20 per hour to pet sit.  $15.75/hour for a receptionist plus medical and tuition benefits.  Can't make this stuff up while Walmart is biggest employer in my state of Arizona.

Dave T's picture

I’d rather see them cut the

I’d rather see them cut the electric than raise taxes.  The government does such a “fine” job with the tax dollars that I give them now that I loathe the thought of giving them anymore.  Unfortunately things need to get worse before the government will start to cut entitlement programs and such.  For starters, my personal opinion is that public entities should not be allowed to offer pensions.

Municipalities are starting to declare bankruptcy and the credit ratings of the major banks continue to decline.  Yet people still refuse to see the writing on the wall.

onewileyz's picture

Ms. Whitney did know what she was talking about!

And she caught hell for it

MonkeySmoke's picture

Respectfully...

I have to respectfully disagree with some of the statements made in this article. I pay a Social Security tax every time I get paid. This is not a government benefit, I have paid for this for well over thirty years at this point in my life. I expect to get my money back--even though I understand at this point in time, this more than likely will not happen. I have paid for a portion of my retirement that will probably never materialize. I am not sure how this aspect in Greece works, but that is how it works here in the United States. The unions cut deals with the local and state governments, and I while I agree the governments are held hostage--at times--the other citizens of the local and state community should have the opportunity to speak against the benefits demanded by the unions and the union members. IMO government employees should never, ever be allowed to unionize. They are civil servants and should not ever receive higher or better compensation than a private sector employee, period. This is a mistake by the citizens of each state of this country to allow this to happen. We need to vote into office those that would end government employee unions. The money already paid into the retirement funds and insurance funds should be refunded to the members and that should be the obligation of each of the unions.

As far as the Occupy movement, that is spreading worldwide, for the most part they do know why they are protesting. There are plenty that have their on agenda and plenty that are misinformed. Then there is the majority that understand the banksters. the Federal reserve and Fascism are the overall problem. This is my opinion based on the number of interviews coming out of the Occupations across the country. If there is a "leader" that would emerge, at this point, IMO, it would be harmful to the overall movement. The issues are large, the problems are complex and run very deep. It takes time to work out how to handle and what steps need to be taken. From what I can gather, that is what is happening. I also believe the Occupy movement has the potential to cause a lot of problems as well. The criminal banksters have already bribed the NYPD with $4.6 million dollar "donation" to the policemen fund, compliments of JPMorgan. This will cloud their minds and prompt them to look the other way regarding the actual problems. The police and firemen of this country are two of the largest groups of individuals that have been raped by the criminal banksters, compliments of the Bank of New York Mellon and State Street Bank. Harry Marlopolos along with the State Attorney Generals of Florida, Virginia and New York have brought charges against both of these banks for stealing 3/10 % of each transaction in every pension fund for the police and firemen in this country. This crime has been perpetrated for the past forty years!!! And the police attack the protesters instead of joining them. The police attack Veterans instead of joining them in protests.

I appreciate your opinions on these matters but I have to respectfully disagree with some of the view points. And, no, it will not it well, not at all.

MUDbone's picture

It's not the salaries

It's not the salaries of public employees that will destroy most cities, it is the pension and healthcare promises made. What will you do if 100% of the budget in your city/town goes to pay for the pensions and healthcare of the retired employees? Will you keep paying taxes? It is going to happen in many cities unless something is done about it.

CYM's picture

The author needs to read "The

The author needs to read "The Long Emergency" by James Howard Kunstler.  This situation has been a long time in the making and is due to an energy withdrawal on a global scale.  Energy = work;  without it, nothing gets done.  I'm speaking primarily of oil, of course, but am trying to avoid that buzz-word that throws people into a tizzy of denial.  You can NOT have economic growth without increasing consumption of energy.  The quality and quantity of energy available is rapidly decreasing worldwide.  Therefore, there will be no more growth.     There will only be contraction;  a long, slow, mitigated contraction of economic activity across the planet.  The end game will be localization of just about everything from governance, education, food production, etc... some type of neo-tribalism is likely in many places.

I have linked to this before in other forums, but here it is again.  Please read it if you want to understand why our financial system is collapsing.  There are many humans who deserve a share of the blame, but at the root of the problem is the laws of physics.

http://www.feasta.org/documents/risk_resilience/Tipping_Point.pdf

¤'s picture

Ms. Whitney

Onewileyz....Great point! 

She was merely early and everyone knows if the paper games and State budgets weren't all fudged or MOPED over  year after year it would have happened long ago.

I liked the "common man" guest post. From the heart and a observation of concern. Yep, state budgets etc and state employee payrolls will be tougher to meet and there will be pain for sure. And that sucks.

The entire "system" is bloated and some cuts have to be made and people will suffer unfortunately. Who wants layoffs anywhere? I don't.     And  "No"...I don't like paying taxes or want to pay more. Things are so messed up to such a extent that there is no one person or entity to actually to blame if you think about it.

I mean, what were the alternatives?  Vote for the other guy/gal and things would be way different? Nope. They're all the same at the higher levels of Govt.    It doesn't matter what party.

It's the system that's in place and getting much larger as we speak despite all of the protests and howls from each party that it needs to get smaller.

The thing that bugs/worries me right now about all of these cutbacks if I had to pick one, would be the prisoners being let out early of state prison systems or just a certain level of criminal being deemed "safe enough" to just cut loose.

The prison system and incarceration debate is a big one in of itself and it just goes to prove unfortunately that we have no shortage of problems and a huge one of solutions.

The only way to solve it is to do austerity to a massive degree. The entire false economy and job base in Govt. would collapse as a result.

Folks....were boxed in.angry

SRV - ES339's picture

Which one of the Koch Bros wrote this thing?

Yes, it was all those greedy teachers, firefighters, and bus drivers to blame for screwing up "our friend's" infrastructure!

There are those that aren't interested (the author, up to the point the carnage actually affected his "I'm alright Jack" little world) and those that lash out at the real victims (the author post being personally affected), parroting the morally bankrupt right wing propaganda blaming everyone but those responsible... those sitting around the country club complaining about Obama stealing a couple of percentage points of their precious six (or seven) figure income in an effort to provide jobs for the innocents that have been ravaged by the greed and corruption at the top!

ewc58's picture

Don't Worry, it definitely won't :-)

Have you any idea the number of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs in broke communities all over the country who've recommended their fellow townspeople buy defensive firearms in response to budget cutbacks that they know will mean areas won't be patrolled, low end laws will go unenforced, and even some felonies won't be prosecuted?

It's one thing to know conceptually that these breakdown phase processes are playing out in the background, but it's a whole other kettle of fish when we begin to see the bright lights go dark, armed neighborhood patrols start forming up, and shooting wars with marauding bands commence.

Ammo Bitchez. We're talking the bang-bang kind in this case.

Don't you hate when that particular voice whispers in your ear? Next thing ya know, you're uttering scary shit, and you're doing it sitting with a buddy on college gameday.

Great time for a pucker-maker like that one, eh? You musta been a laugh riot after that.

clueless one's picture

how will it look???

Detroit.

And I agree, you can't point a finger at public employees...that's not right, in my opinion.  They are, for the most part, the same as the guy who wrote the post.  It's time to stop the segregation.. the have and have not mentality. 

Yes, it sucks.  No way around it. 

One thing I keep thinking, is that each of us, the folks who have the ability to do so, will at some point, have to stand up and get neighbors together, get them to understand, and begin to police ourselves.  It's coming.  You can deny it all you want, but that doesn't change a damned thing.

Yes, roads will be crappy.  Power will be an issue, as will other "taken for granted" resources.  But for us to have ANY chance at getting through this mess, we will need to stand together.  While it may not be that easy in inner cities, think Babylon, which is an understatement, I would venture to guess that small suburbs and such could band together and create gardens, food supplies via livestock, and basically live as in the pioneer days...because that's where we're headed.  Like it or not.

So why not try and get ahead of it??  I've been on the fence about going to the township office, just to see what they thought about having a meeting of sorts...to at least see if progress could be started.  I had applied for a permit some time ago for a fence, and the two people I talked to, when I mentioned that "why the hell can't we work together" in one of my rants about the whole FIAT mess, they were incredibly positive with responses like "yeah!!!  why are there not more people like you out there?"  They even, half witted, offered me a job, lol.  There IS a will out there, we just have to tap into it and organize it.

I think, after reading that post, that I'll pay them a visit next week.  After all, you can stack and stock all you want...but that still comes down to self-interest.  I know, at least I hope, that if someone was starving, and I had a couple of cans of whatever I could spare, that I'd help where I could.  And, deep down, I think most on this site would do the same.  Otherwise, we wouldn't be here.  This site is special.. no doubt about it.  Nothing like it anywhere else on the net.

"WE" are who we have been waiting for...

Drifter's picture

+1 to your bud

spot on

it used to be that .gov jobs were lower paid then private industry BUT you had more job security in the event of a downturn

wages & benefit packages for .gov employees are now substantially above private, especially for .Fed

now the downturn is here & salaries & bennies are too high to keep everyone on the gravy ride & .gov unionistas are acting SURPRISED that they may lose their job

I just sent off my property tax payment and am INCENSED at the thought that it will be spent to provide a higher standard of living for .gov people then I can afford to maintain

INCENSED

NW VIEW's picture

THIS CAN END WELL,FOR SOME

The writer of the new thread does see the problems but it is an incomplete list.  We all could add our own thoughts to the demise of the dollar and the nations.

He says "things can't end well" and we agree but just talking about it will not change anything.

My grandparents fled out of the old country in 1913 and came to the wonderful land of America.  They had the clothes on their backs, $200, two children and one on the way.  They could not speak a word of English and when my dad went to school he had to learn all over again. The land they left was filled with grief , and death.

However, they were more prepared that most would ever know.  They looked back and said the old ways "can't end well" but the new real changes "will end well".  My family that stayed in the old ways died in them as Hitler ran over everything including my family.  I'm truly thankful today for their vision to make a total lifestyle change.

Yes, "this can end well" and it will for me and my family.  It is one thing to discuss and ponder but a totally different life if we have placed ourselves in a place where the systems of the world cannot ever destroy us again.

Thanksgiving is coming in a few days.  It is my favorite holiday and we are truly thankful.  While you have your friends and family together, it might be a great time to discuss the future and how to prepare for it.     jmo

Drifter's picture

Koch Bros....

anytime anyone brings up math & fiduciary responsibility it seems the Koch Bros are the automatic counterpoint

quick, look under the bed there may be a koch bra

MUDbone's picture

Better to rent

This whole discussion about pension obligations, cities going bankrupt and property taxes going to pay for pensions and corrupt politicians is the reason I will never buy a home. I can't see how owning a home is a wise investment in this climate. Property taxes will keep going up, quality of services will keep going down and property values will tread water at best.

I Run Bartertown's picture

Turd

What a great idea! We get your friend's personal perspective and you get to put up some content at the rate you do without burning out. There are many regular posters here that I'd LOVE to see you invite to write a similar essay. Some of my favorite comments are  personal perspective and the impact of all the things going on. You could make it a regular thing.

Also, I humbly suggest a tweak from 'preparing for the end of the Keynesian experiment' to 'preparing for a rebirth of a free, prosperous, and just people out of the wreckage after the end of the Keynesian experiment'. To refocus ourselves on how to be ready to build what we want and make the collapse into an opportunity. If we don't, then it's just more action-reaction-solution NWO type stuff.

But, you'll need a catchier title. That one's too long wink

SilverFocker's picture

While I agree this wont end well

I am sick and tired of the blame game on the backs of workers whether private or public and the union bashing that goes along with it.

These people bargained for a living wage, it made the middle class what it was, and if either side can't do simple math then there is a bigger problem. Who's fault is it that x amount of dollars was not set aside for any worker under a contract, instead the future monies due was deferred for another day until these Munie's are so far outa wack they start the blame game instead of taking the blame and fixing the problem.

We are all getting ass raped in one form or another, the problem is those doing the deed have run out of lube and this is starting to hurt everyone.

Downturns are not new, if you are not prepared with some rainy day fiat or some other means, then blame yourself or as in the case of these local governments.........Blame the Damn Political hack's that have and still are irresponsible in more ways than one.

The big G-O rilla in the room is healthcare cost. Until this problem is tackled head on by reasonable minds, you ain't seen nothing yet.

One thing is certain is that nothing is for certain and this will not end well. For that much, we can all agree.

theskier's picture

@SRV ....

... nice try SRV ....... but ............ no.

zilverreiger's picture

"Heck, just watch the “Occupy

"Heck, just watch the “Occupy (fill in blank)” crowd and they don’t even know why they are protesting! "

They are protesting for the same reason as you started this site.

Break through the limbo.

American right wing should join occupy to a greater degree, more vets, more libertarians.

HALT the nation.

Dr Durden's picture

Stagflated Hyperdisinflation

Don't you hate it!??!

Like I was telling a friend of mine the other day (also Midwestern, not over a beer): just when you're convinced they couldn't come up with ANOTHER way to prolong the inevitable, they do. Just when you think "this is it," it ain't...the game continues. 

It's actually nice because the pressure I put on myself throught 2011 has gradually dissolved as my supplies have grown. What a coincidence. 

Point is: if you can help someone, you still can. It's never too late no matter what nonsense fear mongering you read on a daily basis. There will be no explosion, no fireworks, no KA-BOOM like they want you to believe. It's cancer, not a heart attack. Keep your head on straight and use your intuition, forget all the rest of the noise. 

It can not and will not end well, that's for sure. But it won't be tomorrow, you can bet your stack on it. Never bet against the ingenuity and will of the people to survive. 

Dave T's picture

I have to disagree

I have to disagree with you zilverreiger.  Someone correct me if I am wrong, but from what I gather many of the protestors are protesting because they feel the government is not doing enough for them.  They basically want the government to do more for them.  More hand holding.  This generally equates to more free handouts and more loss of liberty.

Syndicate contentComments for "Guest Post: This Can't End Well!"